Yearly Archives: 2016

Inbenta – “Everyday A.I.”

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) sounds futuristic, but it is making its way into everyday tasks. Inbenta, which specializes in Natural Language Processing and semantic search, is focusing its AI solution on better website customer service – intelligent bots that can actually understand what you ‘meant’ rather than what you typed.

With offices in USA, Spain, France, Brazil and Chile, Inbenta is no stranger to international sales. But when they wanted to step on the gas to accelerate global expansion, they hired SFE for our international sales expertise and our network of sales professionals in over 30 countries.

About Inbenta
Inbenta specializes in Natural Language Processing and semantic search to improve the customer experience online through Artificial Intelligence-powered technology that helps businesses increase the efficiency of its customer service, call centers, e-Commerce, FAQs and social media platforms. Support services such as dynamic FAQs, knowledge management and virtual assistants improve business website searches, customer self-service, and e-Commerce conversions.

With a team of expert linguists assigned to each client to help them understand the root cause of queries and make suggestions on updates to FAQs, Inbenta’s products help

businesses improve the overall online experience offered to its customers. Inbenta’s patented technology has greatly reduced incoming customer service emails and calls to call centers for industry-leading companies including Ticketmaster, CA Technologies and Schlage Locks.

https://www.inbenta.com/en

Amer Mounts – “Screens Across Europe”

As more signage and displays go digital, companies need hardware to mount those screens onto walls, ceilings, retail shelves, restaurant counters, etc. And that’s where Amer Mounts specializes: clamp mounts, articulating mounts, wall mounts, projector mounts, mobile carts—every type of display mount one can conjure.

The company manufactures and sells its mounting hardware through offices in USA and Canada, and distributes through a network of resellers. To sustain the company’s growth, Amer Mounts tapped SFE to develop channel relationships and distribution networks throughout Europe by leveraging our extensive distributor relationships and our network of in-country sales professionals.

About Amer
Amer is a global distributor and manufacturer of digital display mounting hardware, as well as networking, storage and security products.

The company has earned a reputation as a provider of dependable hardware backed by the most comprehensive support and appropriate customer warranties in today’s market since 1997.

Amer’s reseller network has continued to grow, and through this success the company is growing its innovative, value-laden product line into the SOHO/SME market. These products will continue to enhance efficiency and improve productivity everywhere that people connect.

http://amermounts.com/

Qurami – “Never Again Waste Time in a Line.” #YouAreNext

We at SFE hope never again to waste our time standing in a line! Thanks to a free app developed by our newest client, Qurami, we may not have to.

Qurami is a Rome (Italy) based startup with the clever hashtag #YouAreNext. Their free app for iOS and Android allows users to reserve their place in a virtual queue, prior to arriving at a location. The app provides real-time updates about one’s expected waiting time, and notifies users when their turn is near. Currently the technology is integrated at a range of public offices, hospitals and universities.

To scale their company, Qurami’s developers hired SFE to sell the technology directly into museums, theaters, banks, train stations, post offices, and a number of other institutions – and also to develop a channel strategy. Qurami was particularly impressed with SFE’s prior channel development experience and existing network of procurement contacts

Try it for yourself: the Qurami app is available for free at the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

About Qurami

Qurami is the App that gets a virtual ticket on your smartphone and checks the queue on your behalf.

Time is the only variable we can’t control. Qurami was born with the goal of unbinding us from time wasting. Today it’s an app that helps thousands of people to create their own time, from a smartphone. Go get it! #YouAreNext

http://www.qurami.com

5 Sales Disciplines of a VC-Backed Growth Company

December 9, 2016

5 Sales Disciplines of a VC-Backed Growth Company
(lessons from our in-the-field experience)

All VC-backed companies need to grow. For start-ups and mature companies alike, there is actually a real cost to not expandingsales and distribution quickly enough. But in our experience, growth can also be risky and expensive if not done well.

We set out to write an advice piece listing the top-5 successful sales disciplines for rapidly growing VC-backed companies, based on our 20-year experience leading their sales teams. A bit of Googling to see who else has written on the topic shows that everyone from Harvard Business Review to McKinsey has compiled lists of do’s and don’ts. These are analysts and consultants who don’t get their hands dirty with the actual selling, preferring to conduct surveys and wax philosophically instead.

Unlike those consultants, SFE works directly with technology startups–typically funded by top-tier VC firms–as we lead their international sales expansions. We’re hands-on, selling in-the-field in 28 countries and holding direct responsibility for sales results. Working with as many companies as we have, it’s easy for us to see some common patterns that lead some VC-backed company to success (and others to failure) from direct experience and without any surveys:

1.) High-growth companies aim for sales growth and profits

VCs want their portfolio companies to go from zero to a thousand miles an hour as quickly as possible, and if it means bleeding red ink that’s OK in the short term. But eventually the company needs to exit and, in the past few years, capital markets have grown leery of growth-at-all-costs unless there is some proof that profitability can be achieved. The most successful companies we’ve worked with are hell-bent on global growth, but they approach new market opportunities with both a global domination and a profitability mindset.

2.) High-growth companies see macro opportunities before they become ‘obvious’
When Wikipedia launched in 2001 as a community-maintained online dictionary, the folks at Microsoft’s Encarta group were probably laughing. When Apple nixed the CD drive from its new MacBook Air in 2008, it was heresy. When Google started working on self-driving cars in 2009, it was perceived as an indulgent sci-fi exercise. High-growth companies see macro trends long before they become ‘obvious’ and they act quickly and decisively even as the critics tease them.

In a more mundane example, several of our clients at SFE have been doubling-down their investments in expanding to the UK market even as critics fret over Brexit because, in the macro view, now is actually the best time to enter UK since 1955.

3.) High-growth companies keep their burn rate in check

The advantage of having VC capital backing you is that you can burn cash to out-distance competitors. But that doesn’t mean that your spending goes un-checked. Series B and C rounds are raised mostly for fueling sales and marketing. And the smart companies we work with expand their sales and distribution channels aggressively, usually investing in international markets sooner rather than later.

You do not need to drop $1M in opening a London office, which can distract senior management and delay customer engagement, and which ignores the entire rest of Europe. Smart companies invest in services that deliver actual revenue — like like developing channels and doing localized lead generation in each target country. Our clients at SFE leverage our network of in-country sales consultants — located in 28 countries throughout Europe — to test new regions cost-effectively and to develop distribution and sales results using local contacts.

4.) High-growth companies stay focused

A small or medium sized company typically can do only one thing really well. If you try to do too much, your competitor who is doing ‘just the one’ will do it better and will win. High-growth companies have a discipline of focus, which starts with product development and core messaging, and continues all the way through to international expansion. They stay focused on core verticals, and they build their sales and marketing tools and service teams around those core verticals.

5.) High-growth companies keep the core team lean and trust Partners for growth

Adding employees increases capacity, but it also increases management overhead and fixed costs — not to mention it can also dilute founders’ equity. The high-growth companies we work with often use best-of-breed contract services — from legal and accounting, to marketing and international sales expansion. They keep their core team lean and focused on developing a core product value and customer service, and they leverage a network of specialized partners that are highly qualified and can provide the flexibility to grow and adapt to an ever changing environment.

If you manage a high-growth company, we want to talk to you. Since 2003, SFE has lead successful international sales and distribution growth for more than 200 clients into Europe and other expansion markets.

Rick Pizzoli
CEO & Founder

 

Accure – “Joins SFE USA Focus”

Accure helps data driven companies to connect to all data sources, aggregate, join and transform their data, build big data analytics based on machine learning, NLP, and statistical science so that our customers get actionable insights in a fraction of time and cost.

They are a strong technology team having extensive experience in building compute intensive data solutions, big data science, and algorithm development.

They have worked with small to large global corporations, including startups and fortune 500 companies, and demonstrated our customer focused approach to turning data into meaningful intelligence.

Their strengths are their partners located worldwide to serve local customers at a global scale.

http://www.accureanalytics.com/

Big Data Science, Without the Coding

December 1, 2016

Data scientists are among the highest paid and most difficult to fill engineering positions within data-driven enterprises today. Accure lets companies automate many of the big data analytics set-up and analysis tasks without writing a single line of code. Accure’s platform uses built-in, ready to use algorithms to do both supervised and unsupervised machine learning and prediction analytics.

Accure brought in SFE to expand their platform sales into enterprises focused in key verticals including Healthcare, Telecom, Retail, and Social Media. SFE’s understanding of the technology and our extensive sales contacts within enterprises in their key vertical markets was key to us winning the deal.

About Accure

Accure helps data-driven companies to connect to all data sources, aggregate and transform their data, build big data analytics based on machine learning and NLP, and apply statistical science so that customers can get actionable insights in a fraction of the time and cost.  Accure’s flagship ‘Momentum’ solution is a big data analytics platform that simplifies bringing big data from multiple sources (such as RDBMS, NoSQL, flat files, and TCP/IP streams) to high scale storage and processing systems built on top of Hadoop. Data from multiple sources can be merged, correlated, and transformed in the format required to solve the business problem.

http://www.accureanalytics.com 

Realities of Selling into Post-Brexit UK

November 8, 2016

Realities of Selling into Post-Brexit UK

Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU on June 23, the Pound has been pummeled, politicians have resigned, and investors were spooked. But UK citizens and companies have largely gone about their business as usual. The country still spends $28.9 Billion on imports and represents the 5th largest economy in the world. The reality for companies selling into the UK market is the economic dynamics and exchange rates are working in their favor, making it is increasingly affordable to sell there.

While we’re not economy experts or fortunetellers here at SFE, we do enough business across borders that we feel it’s important to track and report to you on this dynamic new post-Brexit environment. Our UK sales partners have had front-row seats to witness the gyrations.

Financial markets hate uncertainty, so the reaction of the British Pound is hardly surprising considering that UK witnessed in quick succession a vote to leave the EU, resignation of its Prime Minister, and a leadership crisis in the Labor party.

The position of the Pound continues to decline against the US Dollar, but this imbalance has its benefits: UK exporters will benefit, as well as tourism, and perhaps most importantly businesses selling into the UK from abroad have discovered an overall improvement in the risk profile. That is, it has become much less costly for software and technology companies to launch and sell into post-Brexit UK.

Further, the change to the ‘back of the queue’ view on trade from the US, quickly followed by Canada, Australia, Germany and 11 others—all now seeking trading agreements—mean the fifth largest world economy will not disappear overnight. This fact was recognized by Theresa May, who has appointed a new role to the Cabinet of Secretary of State for International Trade. Imports into UK have averaged USD $28.9 Billion annually since 1955 and reached an all-time monthly high in August 2016.

At SFE, our value as a beachhead for new business development in Europe has only improved as a result. And while we cannot predict market fluctuations in the distant future, what we can say with some confidence now is that the UK is very much open for business and trading partners will not be so quick to erect barriers as the rhetoric may have once indicated.

Interestingly, some are positioning this post-Brexit window as a chance to strengthen a UK manufacturing industry that has been gradually eroded in the last 15 years – good news for software and equipment vendors alike. Further, the IMF revised their UK growth expectations and, in fact, they now forecast more positive growth for the UK in the next two years than for France and Germany. And despite some uncertainties over Brexit, the UK will remain attractive to foreign investors because of the transparency of its legal and regulatory environments.

To those living in the UK there is economic concern, but tempered now with a sense of excitement in the air as the dust settles. The one thing that we can be sure of is that the post-Brexit environment can create opportunity and this could be the best time to launch in the UK with lower costs and potentially high rewards.

Rick Pizzoli
CEO & Founder

SFE – “Realities of Selling into Post-Brexit UK”

Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU on June 23, the Pound has been pummeled, politicians have resigned, and investors were spooked. But UK citizens and companies have largely gone about their business as usual. The country still spends $28.9 Billion on imports and represents the 5th largest economy in the world. The reality for companies selling into the UK market is the economic dynamics and exchange rates are working in their favor, making it is increasingly affordable to sell there.

While we’re not economy experts or fortunetellers here at SFE, we do enough business across borders that we feel it’s important to track and report to you on this dynamic new post-Brexit environment. Our UK sales partners have had front-row seats to witness the gyrations.

Financial markets hate uncertainty, so the reaction of the British Pound is hardly surprising considering that UK witnessed in quick succession a vote to leave the EU, resignation of its Prime Minister, and a leadership crisis in the Labor party.

The position of the Pound continues to decline against the US Dollar, but this imbalance has its benefits: UK exporters will benefit, as well as tourism, and perhaps most importantly businesses selling into the UK from abroad have discovered an overall improvement in the risk profile. That is, it has become much less costly for software and technology companies to launch and sell into post-Brexit UK.

Further, the change to the ‘back of the queue’ view on trade from the US, quickly followed by Canada, Australia, Germany and 11 others—all now seeking trading agreements—mean the fifth largest world economy will not disappear overnight. This fact was recognized by Theresa May, who has appointed a new role to the Cabinet of Secretary of State for International Trade. Imports into UK have averaged USD $28.9 Billion annually since 1955 and reached an all-time monthly high in August 2016.

At SFE, our value as a beachhead for new business development in Europe has only improved as a result. And while we cannot predict market fluctuations in the distant future, what we can say with some confidence now is that the UK is very much open for business and trading partners will not be so quick to erect barriers as the rhetoric may have once indicated.

Interestingly, some are positioning this post-Brexit window as a chance to strengthen a UK manufacturing industry that has been gradually eroded in the last 15 years – good news for software and equipment vendors alike. Further, the IMF revised their UK growth expectations and, in fact, they now forecast more positive growth for the UK in the next two years than for France and Germany. And despite some uncertainties over Brexit, the UK will remain attractive to foreign investors because of the transparency of its legal and regulatory environments.

To those living in the UK there is economic concern, but tempered now with a sense of excitement in the air as the dust settles. The one thing that we can be sure of is that the post-Brexit environment can create opportunity and this could be the best time to launch in the UK with lower costs and potentially high rewards.

Mobile Posse – “Send in the (Sales) Posse”

Consumers look at their phones more than 100 times per day and they spend 26% of their time on their home screens—which makes the mobile home screen the most valuable real estate on the planet. Bessemer Venture Partners estimates its value at $1 Billion per ¼ square inch!

Mobile Posse is harnessing the mobile home screen as an engagement platform (called AppEnvoy) for content delivery, targeted advertising, campaign management, CRM, and other consumer interactions. To introduce the AppEnvoy SaaS platform to mobile carriers, Mobile Posse sought out Sales Force Europe for our established telco contacts and in-country sales teams.

About Mobile Posse

Mobile Posse is revolutionizing consumer engagement on the most valuable real estate on mobile phones – the home and lock screens. Mobile Posse is building on a business-proven and consumer-friendly platform that has delivered more than 60 billion messages to help mobile carriers reconnect with their mobile customers, drive the highest engagement and generate new revenue.

http://mobileposse.com/

Jetlore – “E-Commerce Retailers Get Personal”

The utopian vision of e-commerce lets every customer enjoy an individualized shopping experience—but only if some algorithm can tell the browser what product to display to whom. Jetlore’s SaaS solution uses behavioral, contextual, customer-contributed, and product data to rank and predict the most relevant content that will make each customer’s online shopping experience unique, engaging, and profitable.

Jetlore’s customers include many of the top names among the Internet Retailer 500 in the United States, and to expand their sales footprint into Europe they sought the expertise and connections provided by Sales Force Europe and our teams of in-country sales professionals.

About Jetlore
Founded in 2012 by Stanford PhD students and accelerated at Stanford’s StartX, Jetelore’s passion is building predictive big data technologies. Over the course of four years, the company has built and refined technologies that address the unique requirements of providing fresh, personalized and delightful customer experiences.

Today, Jetlore helps retailers transition from transactional to relationship commerce through its personalized content orchestration technology. Led by Stanford data scientists and industry veterans, Jetlore is pioneering relationship commerce technology to create a new engine of repeatable revenue and margin growth in e-commerce. Jetlore is backed by tier-one VCs including Alsop Louie Partners, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Sierra Ventures.

http://www.jetlore.com/